We Asked A Dr How To Keep Yr Heart Healthy Bc Break-Ups Aren’t The Only Thing That Can Hurt It

Getting dumped sucks. Like, a lot. But while it may feel like your heart has been crushed under that loser’s foot, the good news is that your ticker is only metaphorically broken.

While the game of love can hurt, we should also be staying on top of our heart health all year ’round. After all, it’s pretty important. Especially when heart disease is Australia’s leading cause of death, affecting families and communities around the country. 

We don’t want to scare you, and we know, we know, you’re young but as medical practitioner, Dr Zac Turner says, it’s better to get your car in for a service every six months and know what’s going on than ignore it until it’s about to go kaput. 

“If you hear a knock in your car you just go get it serviced. It’s not saying anything is wrong, but you might as well check in whilst you’ve still got the warranty – while you’re still healthy.”

Read on for some tips on how to keep your ticker ticking, according to a doctor. And, if you’re ever concerned about your heart health, book in to see your GP as soon as possible.

How can good nutrition protect our heart health? 

Whilst we all love our chocolate, salty chips and deep fried food (especially around Valentine’s Day), consuming foods that are high in saturated fats on a regular basis can be detrimental to our heart health.

Saturated fats can be found in animal products and some processed foods, especially fast food. Eating too many of these foods has been linked to increased blood cholesterol levels (which can then harden your arteries, resulting in heart disease).

“Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Things that I love in life; milk, cheese, eggs, butter, prosciutto, all the things that make Wagyu beef delicious — those can cause a lot of heart disease and lie in the arteries,” says Dr Turner. 

“If it’s solid at room temperature, then your body probably needs to have enzymes to make it liquid in your bloodstream.”

Of course, things such as dairy and meat contain many essential vitamins and minerals so there’s no need to cut them out completely. Life is about enjoying the best things in life in moderation, after all.

If you really want to stay on top of what you’re putting into your body, apps like MyFitnessPal can help you to live a healthy and balanced life by tracking your nutrition in the palm of your hand. By keeping an eye on your food, you can see the amount of saturated fats in the meals you commonly eat, allowing you to make some simple swaps and give you a better understanding of how our food choices impact us daily.

“Saturated fats are good occasionally, but you should eat them (when you can) with fibrous foods. A couple of nuts, a carrot or a stick of celery because fibrous foods like lentils and chickpeas can help to bind to “bad” cholesterol, says Dr Turner.

Consistency is key 

Like anything related to our health, consistency is key, and Dr Turner notes that we can’t offset a whole week’s worth of poor diet and lack of exercise in one day.

“Our bodies and our hearts are kind of like three year olds. Consistency is key to maintaining their behaviour.”

Alongside nutrition, exercise is also an important factor in the status of our heart health.

“Grab a friend and just do something different. Go to the park and do some stretches and then do a fast paced run, or just run up some stairs at least once a week. Most of the [heart] issues come from narrowing of arteries,” says Dr Turner.

“If you can raise your blood pressure up really quickly, just by doing a couple of stair climbs, you’ll then have a really good assessment of where your cardiac health is. Because it should be coinciding with how you’re running up and down.”

Dr Turner also notes that keeping an eye on your stress levels is important in maintaining your heart health.

“Your heart is designed to to help us in different situations. So it is designed to deal with stress. But if your stress becomes the norm, then you’re going to come into some issues.”

By making sure you’re getting enough healthy fats, fibre, and vitamin-rich fruits and veggies in your diet, plus doing some exercise that gets your heart rate up (and reduces stress), you’ll be able to enjoy a long and happy life – instead of embodying an M.I.A track.

MyFitnessPal is free to download on Apple, Google, and other Android platforms. It has plenty of Valentine’s Day-themed recipes for Aussies looking to kick-start their journey to a healthier heart.

Dr Turner was not paid for this interview and was not paid to endorse MyFitnessPal.